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Europeans Explore and Settle Other Lands

European

Visitors to the Portuguese city of Lisbon, on a certain day in 1499, would have found the people in a holiday mood. Groups of townsmen who gathered here and there talked excitedly about the arrival of two ships and there was good reason. In the two years since these vessels had sailed down the river and slipped out of sight, they had completed the first trip from Europe around Africa to India and back. Such an event indeed deserved to be celebrated. Not only had the fearless captain of this expedition, Vasco da Gama, performed a great feat of navigation, but he had brought back spices and other goods worth 60 times the cost of his voyage. No wonder the people shouted. No wonder King John of Portugal rubbed his hands with glee and heaped honours on da Gama. For here, reasoned King John, lay the key to power and prosperity. Suppose each Portuguese ship returned laden with goods worth 60 times the cost of its voyage. Portugal quickly would become rich and powerful. How much better off he was, the king thought, than if he had listened to Columbus! That man had pestered him for years to provide the ships, money and men to sail westward across the Atlantic to India. To be sure, Columbus had finally obtained backing from the monarchs of Spain, Ferdinand and Isabella. What had he accomplished? For the most part, all he had found was a tropical wilderness peopled with savages and he had brought back little to compare with the rich cargoes in the holds of da Gama’s vessels. Yes, in 1499 it looked as if little Portugal would get ahead of all other European countries in the race for wealth and power. Several years passed before other voyages across the Atlantic proved …

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The Election of 1936

townsend

As Roosevelt’s first term in office neared its end, many people in the United States — and in other countries — wondered if the New Deal could really solve America’s problems. More than that, they wondered if Americans would continue to follow the path of democracy. A wave of totalitarianism was sweeping the world; would it reach as far as America? There was no doubt that there were some Americans who supported Hitler and the Nazis. Members of the German-American Bund paraded in brown shirts and held a mass meeting in New York’s Madison Square Garden, but there were comparatively few Bundists. Many people felt that a more serious threat to democracy and to the Roosevelt administration came from three native American political leaders — Huey P. Long, Father Charles E. Coughlin and Dr. Francis Townsend. Most colourful of the three was Huey Long, a senator from Louisiana. Calling himself the Kingfish, he had come to power in his native state and he ran it, his critics said, as a dictatorship. He was a rousing orator and in front of a crowd he would spout folksy humour, crack sharp political jokes and play the simple country boy. His opponents, however, charged that he was a combination of brutal hoodlum and a shrewd political boss who would stop at nothing to get what he wanted. He would promise the people anything — and he did keep some of his promise. He saw that Louisiana got better roads, schools and hospitals. In return, he got power. Huey Long was not satisfied with the power he had won in Louisiana; he had his eye on the White House. At first a supporter of the New Deal, he turned against it and began attacking Roosevelt. He called Roosevelt a “scrootch owl,” explaining that “a …

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The Civil War 1860-1865

lincoln

AS THE Presidential elections of 1860 drew near, the Democratic party was as hopelessly divided as the nation. The Southern Democrats broke away from the party and nominated John C. Brekinridge of Kentucky as their candidate. He demanded that Congress pass laws protecting slavery in all the American territories, whether the people of the territories wanted slavery or not. Democrats from the northern and border states nominated Stephen A. Douglas, who promised to allow each new state in the West to decide the slavery question tor itself by popular vote. With the Democrats divided, the Republicans were almost certain to win the election, but they needed a candidate and a program that would appeal to most of the voters in the free states. They promised free land for all settlers and one of their campaign slogans was “Vote yourself a farm.” They promised factory owners and workers of the Northeast a high import tax to protect American industry. They also promised that the national government would encourage and help pay for the building of a railroad across the continent. The Republicans chose as their candidate Abraham Lincoln of Illinois. He was a Westerner and a man of the people who had risen in life by his own labour and ability. Even more important politically, he had made fewer enemies than any of the other leading candidates. He was known to be a moderate and sensible man; he was no Abolitionist or extremist. At the same time, he was firmly opposed to slavery and supported the Republican position that slavery must not be allowed to spread beyond the South. THE SOUTH SECEDES While others argued whether or not slavery was lawful under the Constitution, Lincoln went back to the principles of the Declaration of Independence. Lincoln greatly admired Jefferson. Lincoln maintained …

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